NFL in panic?

League in rush to ink new TV deal.

Good morning, all! It’s Frrrriiiiiddddaaaayyyyy!!!!!!

Is the NFL in panic mode? Is losing a key demographic the reason the league is in a hurry to ink a new television deal?

These are questions I am asking (Can you ask questions anymore without being censored?) as Super Bowl LV TV ratings show an erosion in the much-coveted 18-49 demographic.

Here are some numbers for the 18-49 young adult demo on which to chew, if you are the NFL:

  • Sunday’s game produced a 26.5 rating or 34.28 million viewers, down 11% from last season

  • Ratings are down more than one-third from 10 years ago

  • 18-49 made up 37% of the over-all audience

Other key numbers:

  • 18-34 demo witnessed a YoY 13% nosedive

  • 25-54 YoY dropped 10%

  • On ESPN Deportes, the Spanish-speaking broadcast generated a 1.27 rating.

NFL officials are sensitive to ratings dips. So are advertisers and television networks, especially when billions of dollars are exchanged.

It is fair to argue a portion of this demo gravitated over to streaming the game, but not enough to offset the precipitous drop in ratings. This may explain why, according to one report, the NFL is in a hurry to put the finishing touches on a new TV deal. Word is the league wants the ink dry on a TV contract, before establishing a 2021 salary cap, but the ratings’ downward spiral might be another reason to cut a deal now. Hey, worse case scenario, there’s always Nickelodeon.

Eastern League is royal

I could not help but notice the new outfield for the Kansas City Royals. Late Wednesday night the Boston Red Sox traded outfielder Andrew Benintendi to the Royals in a three-way deal that included the New York Mets. Benintendi is only 26. It was just three seasons ago that the former 1st round (2015) draft choice helped lead the Red Sox to a World Series title. I recall broadcasting some of his games in early 2016, when the Hartford Yard Goats played the Red Sox AA affiliate Portland. Now he is ticketed for left field in Kansas City.

Along side Benintendi in center field will be Michael A. Taylor, 30. He signed with KC as a free agent, after playing in parts of seven seasons with the Washington Nationals. In 2015 Taylor played 138 games for Washington with a .640 OPS. He got into 134 games with the 2018 Nationals, with a .644 OPS. During this seven-year period, Taylor also was up-and-down with Washington’s AA affiliate at Harrisburg, where I saw him, while broadcasting Yard Goats’ games against Harrisburg.

So when you watch Kansas City this season and notice Benintendi in left and Taylor in center, think Eastern League.

PGA of America joins the 21st Century

How often have you been on the golf course and your buddy pulls out his phone and launches an app to determine how many yards to the hole? Using such devices on the PGA Tour are forbidden. They still are, however, this week the PGA of America announced that players competing in the PGA Championship, KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship will be permitted to use devices for distance measuring, starting this season. It’s about time.

You may be asking, if you can employ this technology in these tournaments why not the other tourneys? Because the PGA Tour is a separate entity from the PGA of America. Hopefully the Tour will join the 21st century soon. Think of all the trees that will be saved without printing those yardage books?

Yankees integrated booth 50 years ago

Those who write baseball history are correct to point out how the New York Yankees of the 1940s and 50s were slow to integrate their championship teams. But if the Bombers were rightfully criticized, they should be praised for being the first MLB club to integrate their broadcast booth. It was 50 years ago this week that the Yankees hired Bill White, who was 37 at the time, to join their broadcast team that included Phil Rizzuto and Frank Messer.

Retired, after a successful big league career with the New York Giants, Cardinals and Phillies, White was hosting a nightly sports program in Philadelphia, when he was hired. He had no play-by-play experience but the Yankees were right to take a chance. Not only did he develop into a solid broadcaster, but he was a great partner along side Rizzuto and Messer. In those days, the Yankees did not have 50 broadcasters working a game. It was a three-man broadcast team, rotating between radio and TV, game after game. White and Rizzuto were especially entertaining, when they shared the booth, making many a broadcast of some terrible teams enjoyable.

After his announcing days, White, who turned 87 on Jan. 28, became the first African American to become league president, leading the National League. In my opinion, when you combine his baseball playing, broadcasting and executive career he deserves to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

Well, that is it for this week. Have a terrific weekend and thank you for your support.

SPORTSCASTER DAN